Christian Intermingle: Can We Date Outside the Faith?
Type the word "dating" into your Bible search tool, and what comes up? Nothing.
I remember wishing there was an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the topic when I was single, or at least a chapter. Now, I get emails from singles across the country looking for guidance on who and how to date.
While many start off with intentions of finding a godly partner, with each passing year the waiting feels longer and the hoping gets harder. Slowly, we can find ourselves starting to second-guess our original standards, wondering if we've been too extreme or unrealistic. Within that struggle, inevitably the question comes up: Can a Christian date a non-Christian?
The Bible addresses the hardships that come with marrying a nonbeliever, so that's rather clear. But single Christians may be tempted to say, "Well, it doesn't talk about dating. Can't we just date?"
To answer, it's important to take a step back and look at some principles found in Scripture. In Corinthians, Paul writes to a new group of Christians, who've asked him what's okay and not okay for them to partake in as believers in Christ. Paul then challenges the church not to simply ask, "Is it okay?" but instead to ask, "Is it beneficial?" (1 Cor. 10:23).
When a topic isn't directly addressed in the Bible, this can be a helpful guide for us. Because yes, it's okay for us to date someone who doesn't profess Christ. But to ask Paul's question, does it benefit our walk? Does it push us closer to Jesus? God doesn't call us to simply go after the acceptable in life, but the best, most enriching, most God-glorifying. Dating a nonbeliever may not be a sin, but we can do ourselves an injustice when okay gets in the way of what is best for us.
Again, God's Word doesn't talk about dating in particular, though many of its principles can guide our relationships. 2 Corinthians 6:14 reminds us of the importance of being bound together with believers. Genesis 2:24 tells us there is no greater binding experience than the commingling of two people into one, in this thing we call marriage. God knows the difficulty that comes with making two into one, and he encourages his children to be yoked together with someone with whom they can become fully one—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are holistic beings, and in order to truly connect, we must find someone with whom we can connect on every level.
Many Christian singles, even those considering pursuing relationships with people outside of the church, know this deep down. But waiting for love can be trying. It's easy to grow weary in waiting and attempt to jump into a relationship with someone that you may connect with physically and emotionally, but not spiritually—believing that this is as good as it gets and settling for less than best. For people who find themselves in this situation, it's important to remember the reason for the waiting.
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